Robert Ramsay

This is Robert Ramsay. Thousands of pounds spent, hundred thousands of photos shot, and hundreds of trips to exotic places like Gettysburg, Zoetermeer and Rotherham, he is to blame for it all.

You see I shoot bands.

Paul Menel Band

And not just any type of bands. I shoot progressive rock bands. The type of bands which most people thought died out in the 70s, when Punk arrived. But they still exists.

So how do you spot a prog band? The simplest way is to see if any of the members of the band tend to like dressing up.

Dilemma.

Yes that is a man wearing a fish-eating-another-fish hat.

Book of Genesis.

Hats are popular among prog bands.

Script for a Jester's tear.

They are also keen horticulturists.

RPWL

A man with a heart of a stick. It doesn't really get more Prog than that.

So why Prog. Well remember Robert?

Robert Ramsay.

I have worked with Robert for over 12 years now, and in the late noughties, he brought in a demo cd for his new band, Tinyfish.

Tinyfish.

I listen to that cd and was enthralled. I went to one our their gigs, and brought along my pocket camera. Some of the shots were ok and I really liked their music, which I learned was considered to be progressive rock. I went to another of their gig in London at a place called the Peel and before you could say supper's ready (prog joke), I had become a regular and had upgraded to a DSLR. My photos got better, and Tinyfish asked me to do a photo shot for their album; the big red spark.

The Gift.

I spent some time googling band photos, and 90 % of them are like this. A brick wall with the band in front.

Tinyfish had other plans.

Tinyfish.

This was after all a concept album about the end of the world (and the multiverse), so the guitarist Jim Sanders and I came up with the concept of each band member playing different characters. Still couldn't avoid some bricks though.

Jim Sanders.

And Robert "I blame you" Ramsay.

Robert Ramsay.

As you can see we composited several photos into one for each band member. The camera was fixed on a tripod and set was kept identical for each photo. Extra elements were added later, like the poster on the wall or the member's favourite LP.

RPWL

Besides the costumes and pageantry what drew me in to shooting bands were the special lighting you see at gigs. It lends a special quality to the photos which I enjoy.

Claude Leonetti,Lazuli.

After a motorcycle accident Claude Leonetti  lost use of his left arm, so he invented the léode.

H, Marillion.

I think this image illustrates one of the challenges of shooting concert photography. The lighting is all over the place. You will have several different coloured lights competing against each-other, which sometimes can be a benefit, other times it is a nightmare.

Clive Nolan, Arena.

One way to try to limit the effect of different lighting is to focus on one member of the band to limit any issues.

Jane Setter.

At times the lighting can make the picture as well. The red/purple light in the background complements this photo.

Durga McBroom.

Durga is most famous for being a backup singer for Pink Floyd. I love the random blue ray of light colouring her hair.

Yogi Lang, RPWL.

Another example of smoke and light making a nice background for your photo.

Gédéric Byar, Lazuli

Like JJ Abrams, I like lens flare.

Matt Mitchell, Colour of noise.

Sometimes the light is not where  you expect it to be, and when you review your photos quickly, like I do, it might be easy to miss a shot like this.

Martin Turner, Wishbone Ash.

However as you have no control of the lights unless you are doing a studio shoot, the colours are sometimes too off to be corrected no matter how hard you try, however they might look ok in black and white.

Purple.
Diego Tejeida, Haken.
Leslie Hunt, District 97.

Leslie Hunt, Top 10 American Idol contestant.

John Otway.
Jump
Phideaux.
Angles.
Charlie Cawood.

The last shot here was actually shot in a studio environment, if you can call a lecture hall at SOAS university of London a studio. Anyway I had some flashes with me and was able to capture this image of Charlie Cawood. He had asked me for a moody shot and I think it qualifies.

My Tricksy Spirit.

The reason we were at SOAS was Charlie's band My Tricksy Spirit, which also features music lecturer Nick Gray, here seen playing the gender wayang (a little group of bronze metallophones, used in Bali to accompany the shadow play). I used a two flash setup for this photo.

Stefan Dickers, The Gift.
Tinyfish.
A new day Festival.